Studio Ghibli has released Paul Grimault’s classic French feature LE ROI ET L’OISEAU onto dvd in Japan. The production story of this film is almost as convoluted and legendary as Richard Williams’s THIEF AND THE COBBLER. Grimault started the film in the late-1940s, and didn’t finish a version that he was satisfied with until 1979. Over the years, different cuts of the film have been released under titles like LA BERGERE ET LE RAMONEUR and THE CURIOUS ADVENTURES OF MR. WONDERBIRD. One of those earlier versions was an influence on Ghibli directors Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata when it opened in Japan in 1955. Now, as a way of saying thank you for the childhood inspiration, they’re introducing Grimault’s animation to a new generation of Japanese filmgoers.
Studio Ghibli is not only releasing LE ROI ET L’OISEAU onto dvd, but also giving it a limited theatrical run at the Cinema Angelica in Shibuya, Tokyo. It’ll run through September 22. In conjunction with the dvd release, there’s also a Paul Grimault exhibition at the L’Institut Franco-Japonais de Tokyo which runs through August 31. Ghibli has a website about the film HERE (in Japanese). Be sure to check out the film’s incredible TRAILER.